Today, Toronto’s Old Town has one of the largest concentrations of 19th century buildings in Ontario, and is a tremendous heritage resource. The Heritage Landscape and Resource Guide, developed by Citizens for the Old Town, a grassroots community organization in the Old Town, provides foundational information on sources for Old Town researchers and document the changing urban and heritage landscape of the Old Town. It also provides a Heritage Landscape Field Guide to one of the oldest parts of the city and the individual sites or buildings identified as locally, provincially or nationally significant.
The first Parliament buildings of Upper Canada stood from 1797 to 1813, when they were burned by American forces during the War of 1812. They consisted of two one-and-one-half storey, brick structures. The Parliament site also had a military presence, the town blockhouse was built in 1799.
It all began in 1793 as the Town of York and the creation of the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood. People lived and worked there, traded and sold, gathered to socialize and attend church or, on occasion, to form secret alliances and plan rebellions and uprisings. Today, St. Lawrence Market Neighbourhood continues to be a place where old and new coexist, where heritage buildings stand alongside modern condominiums and businesses. You can travel back in time and explore the original 10 blocks of the city in the Town of York, wander the Victorian lanes of Corktown and discover 19th Century architecture in Queen Street East. Or make your own history by getting up close and personal with the Stanley Cup at the Hockey Hall of Fame. Marvel at the heritage architecture of St. Lawrence Hall, the Flatiron Building, St. James Cathedral and the Distillery factory complex or enjoy a picnic in Berczy Park or the Victorian garden in St. James Park. Old Town Toronto is a place to eat whether at one of the many fine dining restaurants or relaxing with a pint at a friendly pub. Hungry office workers and shoppers congregate at the 200 year old St. Lawrence Market to enjoy a wide array of international gourmet treats or stock up on fresh, locally grown produce. Lovers of the arts flock to see world class live performances of theatre, dance and music on Front Street and frequent the fine art galleries in the Distillery District. Rebellions still occur but in the unique fine home decor and design stores of King Street East where designers defy convention and create modern innovations. It’s all part of what makes Old Town Toronto.